Disney’s Zootopia From Story To Animation

Before one animated character is drawn, it is all about the story. And when I met with the story team from Disney’s Zootopia I learned that the process to get the story exactly right is on going from initial ideas through the last deadline, changes big and small happen can happen everyday and to any scene.

“The movie is never actually finished, they just tell us when we have to stop,” writer Phil Johnston.

That final deadline had recently passed and 1,770 drafts later, co-director and writer Jared Bush, writer Phil Johnston, so-head of story Josie Trinidad and head of editorial Fabienne Rawley were finally done with Zootopia when I had the chance to sit down with them to learn about the process of making Zootopia. 

Zootopia Poster
Over the course of four years, this talented team worked alongside more than 500 people to create the final movie we all get to see in March.

In addition to chatting with the team, we were also treated to two very different story board versions of the same scene. It was fascinating to see how much the scene changed from the original concept to the final product that will be in the movie. I don’t know how they do it because as much as I loved the first version of the scene the next, completely different version was that much better. 

The key to the process is that you have to be willing to kill your darlings. It is a brutal process where you fall in love with a character, idea or a location, and then you step back and look at it and see how it is serving the movie, is it serving the theme, is it serving the story we need to be telling. And if it is not, we toss it away,” Jared Bush.

After the story is created, it is up to the artists to bring that story to life through animation. 

Zootopia Concept Art
The animators were presented with the double-edged challenge of making the world of Zootopia and its characters look and feel realistic, while also being something we have never seen before. Like any other movie that challenge began with research. Visiting both Animal Kingdom park and Kenya, Africa the animators looked at how the animals move in real life and how that could be translated to animated characters walking on two legs. 

Zootopia Characters
Although it looks very different now, head of animation Renato dos Anjos told is that he was inspired by one of my favorite Disney films, Robin Hood, when he fist began to create the character of Nick. (I see it, do you?)

Zootopia Statue
I can’t wait to see how everything in the movie comes together. From the parts I have seen this movie has wit, fantastic imagery and a great story.

Don’t miss these 5 Reasons Zootopia Is Different Than Any Animal Movie You’ve Seen.


Get in touch with your wild side when Zootopia opens in theaters March 4, 2014.


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